Ashley LodatoBy Ashley Lodato

When the Candy Man trains you in a specific sweet-making task and then warns you of a benign but incredibly painful injury that you are very likely going to inflict upon yourself, you tend to take notice.

In preparation for the Winter Wonder Circus Gala at the Barn on Saturday (Dec. 7), I learned how to use the cotton candy machine from Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe. Doug Mohre’s words of wisdom included gems such as “you’re going to hit your finger on this thing just once” and “you’ll think your finger has been severed, but don’t worry, it’s not,” and I realized that candy making is not all one big groovy lemon pie. Making the world taste good is a difficult – and sometimes dangerous – job.

Other vastly more dangerous jobs were explored by fifth grader Eliza Sheehan on her memorable trip to Washington, D.C., during Veterans Day week. Accompanied by her grandparents, Chris and Diane Sheehan, Eliza traveled to the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters to attend a ceremony that dedicated a building to her great-great-uncle, Douglas Munro, who is thus far the only Coast Guard member to have received the Medal of Honor – the U.S. military’s highest award – which he received posthumously for his actions at Guadalcanal in WWII.

Eliza says that she got to tour all around the huge Coast Guard complex, including riding in an amazing glass elevator and meeting Admiral Papp, who is the current Coast Guard commandant.

Eliza also got to visit many of the memorials around the capitol. “I’ll never forget seeing the Vietnam Memorial,” she says. Trips to the American History museum (Kermit the Frog! Dorothy’s ruby slippers!) and the Spy Museum were also both big hits with Eliza.

In the Spy Museum, Eliza was assigned a character and had to remember all the details about that character in preparation for a quiz before being sent off on different missions. As she continued to escape detection as a spy, she progressed further in her missions. Eliza’s final interrogation left her stumped, however. “I didn’t pass,” she admitted, “and I had to stay in Dublin, Ireland.”

Visits to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Mount Vernon, and the IMAX theater rounded out Eliza’s visit. The IMAX featured a 3D movie about the Hubble spacecraft during the 2009 repair mission, and while Eliza was awed by the unparalleled views of space, she was equally captivated by the adventure of an astronaut making a peanut butter sandwich mid-flight, with pieces of bread and jar lids floating around him.

Other kids on cool trips will be revealed this Sunday (Dec. 8) at 4 p.m. at the Mazama Community Center, when Taya and Ian DeLong will give a presentation about their 500-mile walk across Spain on the Camino de Santiago last summer.